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article imageOp-Ed: Sense of proportion? Palin and family get more media than two wars and the economy

By Paul Wallis     Sep 2, 2008 in Politics
Ah, the happy hysteria of a US election. Sarah Palin and family now know what it’s like under an electron microscope. If innuendo and dis-informational claptrap were news, it’d be news. What’s in the media barely qualifies as information.
The obsolescent clown factory known as American partisan politics has always been ready to produce media at the drop of a hack. Standards have always been bottomless.
The Palin coverage, however, has somehow managed to achieve new depths of inanity, literally eclipsing not only the two wars, but the economic crises, and everything else but Hurricane Gustav.
Let's pretend even educated adults can understand basic concepts.
Starting with Gov. Palin’s daughter: It’s nobody’s damn business whether she’s pregnant, a Martian, or has an ingrown toenail. The electorate isn’t better informed, just using electricity.
Her son, Trig: Since when are political reporters experts on heredity? Was the truth revealed unto thee on a golden macro somewhere? Which particular diseased microcephalic came up with that as a political issue? Again, whose business is it, the Palins’ or the rest of the world?
The New York Times seems to have recovered sufficiently to be reporting some actual political news, such as it is:
Among other less attention-grabbing news of the day: it was learned that Ms. Palin now has a private lawyer in a legislative ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she abused her power in dismissing the state’s public safety commissioner; that she was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede; and that Mr. Palin was arrested 22 years ago on a drunken-driving charge.
Yep, nothing like archaeology to liven up a newspaper, let alone an election. The legislative ethics situation is topical, to a point, but that sort of investigation is a frequent tool of political opponents, so it’s not necessarily much more than a process, not information. It’s the political equivalent of vexatious litigation, at this stage, unless it finds any facts.
If it does, that’s more than the American media seems to be able to achieve. Now the really meaty stuff that makes US politics so interesting:
Although the McCain campaign said that Mr. McCain had known about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy before he asked her mother to join him on the ticket and that he did not consider it disqualifying, top aides were vague on Monday about how and when he had learned of the pregnancy, and from whom.
Ahem. This is an issue? To whom? Why? What the hell does it have to do with the present condition of the United States of America, that very occasional topic in this Presidential campaign?
So the kid’s going to have a baby, so what?
If she was going to have a Hyundai, there might be some raised eyebrows, particularly in the car industry, but less media interest.
It’s a matter of opinion if the Virgin Mary could get elected in the US.
Given the high moral standards which everybody evidently applies to everybody else, but not themselves, I doubt it.
The entire selection process, which reads as a fairly ordinary stroll through basic procedures, consumes most of two pages of the NYT coverage. Exactly where any actual impropriety, let alone a relevant incident, might have occurred, doesn’t get much of a mention.
This is from a newspaper where the columnists can actually read and write. Obama called it “irrelevant”, which it is, but let’s face it, someone’s been putting a lot of effort into capitalizing on any potential bit of muck, even, in this case, non-existent muck of various kinds. Even if this was purely a sympathy-getting exercise, it’s gone way beyond any acceptable standards of reportage.
For the record, the foreign media has been somewhat more interested in other things, like:
Russia’s current thunderings,
Europe’s limp wristed response to the Georgian situation,
The various natural disasters around the world in India and China,
Neither war has ended, and
The American economic meltdown hasn’t stopped, either, and even that’s considered interesting.
If the American media would kindly condescend to bring these trifles to the notice of the public, it would be most appreciated by those of us trying to write about actual news events.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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